Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - The Luck of the Irish

Tricky Journal Entry 8: "Story? This yoke helps me give out to your man for codes! Perhaps a pot of gold awaits me der! Ahem...sorry, I forgot I was using CopTalk 2.0. Today I discovered something amazing. That stupid cop in Donut World thinks I'm someone else, as long as I speak in an Irish accent. It sure has been useful, as I can ask him for link codes and passwords that only an SEA Agent would know. I've cracked into a bunch of bases and have some nice software and upgrades for my trouble. I'm bound to get into one of these bank bases soon enough. Pot of gold indeed!"


Surely he won't fall for this!

With my offshore adventures temporarily done with, I restored back to Chiba City with a plan. Now that I’d been everywhere I could get to, I intended to revisit every location systematically, applying my newly installed chips and software, and asking questions relating to topics I’ve learnt throughout the course of the game so far. It didn’t take me long to have some serious success, as the first location I could get into (the Chatsubo was still closed for health reasons) was Donut World. As soon as I arrived I had an idea I was sure would work. Since only cops were allowed in the joint, I used my CopTalk 1.0 skill and then spoke to the guy at the table. “Sure and begorrah, O’Riley. If you don’t recognize me, you’ll get my Irish up.” As much as it defies belief, O’Riley responded with “Finnegan, old pal! Top of the mornin’ to you! I didn’t recognize you!” Once the introductions were over, I had a bunch of new dialogue options that had me pretty excited. 1. “Begorrah! I forgot the comlink number for the Chiba Tactical Police!” 2. “What’s the password for the Software Enforcement Agency? Is it Wild Irish Rose?” and 3. “O’Riley! I heard they changed the Fuji Electric password to Uisquebaugh. Is that right?”


Actors the world over thank the heavens that voice acting hadn't been introduced yet

Obviously these questions were designed to get the real codes and passwords out of O’Riley, and he obliged like the idiot he is. The Chiba Tactical Police comlink is KEISATSU, the coded password for the SEA is SMEEDLDIPO, and the coded password for Fuji is ABURAKKOI, all of which I added to my spreadsheet. This appeared to be the right time to try out my Cryptology skill too, since the two passwords I’d been given by O’Riley needed to be decoded. Unfortunately, when I tried to decode SMEEDLDIPO and ABURAKKOI, both returned a message saying “Unable to decode word.” I thought I must be doing something wrong at first, and even tried unsuccessfully to use the coded passwords to access the bases. Only then did I remember that Julius Deane was offering an upgrade to my Cryptology skill chip to version 2.0. I rushed across to him and gave him the $2500 he required, then successfully decoded both passwords (SMEEDLDIPO became PERMAFROST and ABURAKKOI became UCHIKATSU). I then cheekily restored my game so that I hadn’t spent the $2500, realising that I had the passwords I needed. This is a pretty big flaw in the game really, and I’d be stupid not to take advantage of it given how important money is for success.


The makers of the Cryptology skill chip made sure their early versions didn't decode everything!

Now that I had a new link code and two passwords, I headed on over to the Cheap Hotel where I could jack in and try them out. I didn’t have a password for the Chiba Tactical Police base, but since I’d already retrieved the link code for the SEA base by sending a message to Modern Bob on the Panther Moderns board, I now had all I needed to access it. I entered SOFTEN as the link code and PERMAFROST as the password, and found myself looking at the Software Enforcement Agency menu. I’d intended to use my Scout 1.0 skill to see how many levels there were to the base, but since there was no welcome screen, there was no way for me to use it. I could only assume that this particular base only has one level. The menu had five options: 1. Supervisor’s Memo 2. Bulletin Board 3. Software Library 4. Skill Upgrade 5. View Arrest Warrant List. As much as I wanted to jump down to the Software Library and Skill Upgrade sections, I started with option number 1. The Supervisor’s Memo turned out to be quite interesting. To summarise, it was a memo to firstly tell all Field Supervisors that it’s their responsibility to make sure all of their operatives have the latest matrix simulator protection softwarez installed. Secondly, the memo told all SEA Field Agents to make use of the CopTalk tutorial, and that fourth level CopTalk is required for Senior Field Agent status.


Tutorial shmutorial!

Next I checked out the Bulletin Board, which contained four messages that appeared to be all part of the same conversation between SEA and W. Gibson (the author of the novel). Mr. Gibson was very concerned that one of his field agents, MR. DOS, had gone missing while trailing some Microsoft design thieves in cyberspace. The SEA responded to say that they had no idea where he was, and strangely asked if Mr. Gibson had “misplaced him”. Mr. Gibson very rightly responded to this by stating that “This isn’t a piece of software we’re talking about. MR. DOS is a human field agent.” SEA had the final word though, telling Mr. Gibson to “Solve your own problems. That’s what we hired you for in the first place.” I have no idea whether this little conversation has anything to do with the game or not. It seems more likely to be referencing the novel or a bit of humour that went over my head. The Software Library was much more useful, giving me the opportunity to download Comlink 4.0 and Sequencer 1.0. I didn’t know what Sequencer was all about, but I was pretty happy to have yet another upgrade for my Comlink software, since this seems to be a bit of a progress meter during the early stages of the game.


So let me get this straight...MR. DOS...is NOT software?

The Skill Upgrade section gave me CopTalk 2.0, which was pretty cool given how useful version 1.0 had turned out to be. That left only the last menu option to check out, being the Arrest Warrant List. There were five names on the warrant list (Miki Matsumoto, Parsifal, Fergus Fargo, Mikl Stackpolnik and Ashley Robinson), along with their BAMA ID’s, yet the only name I recognised was Fergus Fargo. I’d received a message from FFargo way back on the PAX Bulletin Board, telling me that I still owed him 2000 credits, but hadn’t run into him or heard the name since. I was able to select each of the names to see what crime they were wanted for, including piracy, smuggling, software pandering and supercode programming (Fergus was in trouble for this one), but didn’t appear to be able to do anything else. Since there were no further menu options to choose from, I exited the base and considered my next move. I decided to act on a hunch and revisit O’Riley in Donut World with my newly upgraded CopTalk chip. Perhaps I’d be able to get even more information out of him?!


Irish 201 course complete!

Even before I enabled my CopTalk 2.0 skill I had a new dialogue option available to choose. “Saint Patty’s Day. I’m looking for the Little People, don’t you know.” This isn’t the first time that the game has given me dialogue options that mean absolutely nothing to me. Who the hell are the Little People? Is it just supposed to be leprechauns? (Please correct me if I just missed a reference earlier.) Anyway, choosing this option once again convinced O’Riley that I was someone else that he knew: “Mulligan! I can barely understand your thick Irish accent! And I almost didn’t recognize you!” I now had two knew things that I could say, being 1. “Have you heard any news, then O’Riley? Found out where the Little People keep their warez?” and 2. “Fergus gave me the second level password for the Chiba Tactical Police but I seem to have forgotten it again!” To the first question he replied “Just got through questioning Shiva. She says, illegal warez are available on the Gentleman Loser DB.” Well that’s interesting! I didn’t even realise there was a base for Gentleman Loser. Perhaps I haven’t been asking the right questions?! O’Riley once again gave me the password I was after as well, telling me the coded password for the Chiba Tactical Police base is SNORSKEE.


I'm sorry, what were we talking about?

So it seemed I was going to have to pay Julius another visit to decode another word. I used the Cryptology 2.0 software to decode SNORSKEE and found that SUPERTAC was the real second level password for the Chiba City Tactical Police base. I didn’t even have the first level password, but I quickly accessed the second level and found that the menu contained only two options: 1. View Warrants and 2. Edit Warrants. I’d expected the names on the warrant list to match those found on the Software Enforcement Agency warrant list, but the only one included on both was Ashley Robinson. The other names on this list were Roy Milestone, Bal 4, Kristoffer Ulm and Kim Tyger, and once again their crimes included piracy, smuggling, software pandering and supercode programming. It was interesting and likely important that I could edit the list of warrants, but I struggled to come up with something to enter. The only person I could think of that I wanted to get out of the way was Larry Moe, who appeared to be guarding the meeting room for the Panther Moderns in his store. I tried overwriting one of the names with Larry Moe, but since I didn’t know his BAMA ID (I went through all my screenshots but came up empty handed), wasn’t able to finish the job.


I thought I'd gotten rid of the bastard for a minute there!

With no other bases to check out due to missing either a link code or a password, I continued to visit various establishments, trying out the CopTalk 2.0 chip with varying results (nothing worth mentioning). When I got to the Gentleman Loser, I remembered that the cop in Donut World had told me there were illegal warez on the Loser base. I asked Shiva about “Loser”, to which she responded with “The Loser link code is LOSER. The password is WILSON, which is a term you should be familiar with.” Her taunt had no effect on me, as I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself! Either I was having some good luck, or I was finally starting to figure out how to play this game. I quickly accessed the Gentleman Loser base, hoping to find whatever these illegal warez were supposed to be. My Scout 1.0 software told me there are three levels to the base, but my first level access only gave me permission to see the Loser BBS. There were however no less than seven messages on the board, making this a little goldmine of information.


Yes, I use it to describe your mother every day!

The first message was from Osric, who I’d briefly seen in the Matrix Restaurant before being kicked out, to Pol Oconner. Osric was telling Pol that the folks at the Body Shop have been asking for him, hoping to sell a complete set of his body parts to a buyer named Random. They would then replace all of his parts with plastic replacements, making a New Human out of him. The second message was from Lord B4 to Ulm Kris, both of whose names I recognised from the Chiba City Tactical Police warrant list (in slightly different forms). Lord B4 was reminding Ulm Kris that he still owed him $4000 for the Bushido deck he’d sold him. Messages three through to five were a single conversation between Keefer, Bleys and Chaos. Bleys asked if anyone had seen Amber, as she never turned up to meet him at the Loser. Keefer suggested Chaos might know something, but Chaos replied to say that he’d met with Amber three weeks ago at Gridpoint, that “she’d found a big stash of softwarez and was now looking for some Thunderhead to crack in and get it”. He recommended Bleys check the Eastern Seaboard base for more info with link code EASTSEABOD.


Ouch! That sounds painful!

I wrote the Eastern Seaboard link code into my spreadsheet and moved onto message number six. This one was from Red Jack to the whole board, and was basically him / her asking everyone to log onto Bank Gemeinschaft’s base at once to tie up their lines (because they’d been “ripping” his account). It listed the bank’s link code as BANKGEMEIN, so once again I put that into the spreadsheet. Finally, the seventh message was from Someone to Red Jack, telling him that Lupus and his Panther Modern friends had been “burning the banks”, so he would be the one to ask about his missing funds. So what did I get out of all that? All I really got were the link codes for the Eastern Seaboard and Bank Gemeinschaft, yet I had no passwords for either. Still, I was making consistent progress, and was really starting to figure out what made Neuromancer tick. There were some bases left on my spreadsheet that I hadn’t attempted to connect to with my upgraded Comlink 4.0, and I hadn’t yet tried out my new Sequencer 1.0 software. I was feeling like more success was just around the corner, and that feeling turned out to be justified! Join me for my next post to find out exactly what, or more specifically who, went down in Chiba City!


Nothing a good old Denial of Service attack can't sort out eh fellas?

Session Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

13 comments:

  1. Haven't visited for a while so I don't know if this has been mentioned before: Kickstarter campaign for A Vampyre Story Year 1.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/876324751/a-vampyre-story-year-one

    ReplyDelete
  2. I must admit that this game really does make itself seem rather racist, by this point....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I can remember, the book doesn't contain any of it.

      That being said, I would make a case that what you see here isn't racism, but stereotyping. These are similar, but not the same. Racism contains a component of difference in value between races, which isn't really obvious here. I see no evidence of either the irish or the hippie being of less value because off their heritage, but harsh sterotyping, definitely.

      Delete
    2. No, I don't remeber any of that in the book, aside from the whole 'The future is Japanese/Nipponese' bit that infested Cyberpunk and everything else from the 80s.

      Delete
  3. Just in case anyone is wondering, those Japanese-sounding words are actual Japanese words, e.g. the Chiba Tactical Police comlink password KEISATSU means "police", the password for Fuji ABURAKKOI means "greasy", UCHIKATSU means "to prevail". Other actual words I noticed in previous posts (not necessarily passwords) are gaijin (foreigner), ninja (uhm), edokko (true tokyoite), FUNGEKI (fury). Also, too bad the game came out the same year the Chiba urban monorail was built, they didn't have a chance to include it in the landscape!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting!

      I wonder what kind of encryption algorithm makes both ABURAKKOI(greasy) from UCHIKATSU(to prevail) and at the same time SMEELDDIPO from PERMAFROST. :p

      Delete
    2. The trivial algorithm mapping ABURAKKOI->UCHIKATSU and SMEELDDIPO->PERMAFROST :)

      Delete
    3. So what you're saying is that when you're buying Cryptology chips of increased level for thousands upon thousands and sticking them in your head the only thing you're actually buying is a simple lookup table that contains interestingly enough just the few particular entries you need at the moment?

      I smell a scam, I tell you, a scam!
      Hey, maybe it's a Prism chip?

      Delete
  4. Richard and Alice, a sophisticated and mature indie adventure game that excels in captivating storytelling while constructing a depressive vision of cataclysmic winter and its effect on the society, is available 60% off on GOG.com. That's only $2.39 for the next 24 hours! http://j.mp/GEMRandA

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sale on GOG.com, including the Book of Unwritten Tales (which I haven't played, but heard good things).

    http://www.gog.com/news/weekend_promo_notable_nordic_games

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unwritten Tales *is* pretty good. One of the few modern adventures I've seen that does humor mostly right. It also manages to mock a lot of pop culture and nerdy tropes without losing the fantasy-land atmosphere.

      It's also really charming and family friendly, even if puzzles are a bit on the easy side based on what I've seen. Nevertheless it's well worth the GOG price IMO.

      Delete
  6. Mr. DOS may not be software, but I bet his wife is!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You wouldn’t beat the game without cheating, would you? I would understand saving money by ignoring irrelevant information in PAX and bases. But you also saved resources for significant info which could not be obtained in other way. Have you played as a clairvoyant or telepathist? Obviously it was not enough for you. Using save-load process for encrypting passwords was lame. I cannot believe that no one criticized that approach.

    ReplyDelete